Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has announced that it will cease performing abortions in December, becoming the first abortion clinic to close in the state in two decades. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that “Regions is the last remaining hospital in the Twin Cities area that performs elective abortions…. Last year it performed 545 abortions, down from 902 a decade earlier.”
With the declining numbers of abortions in Minnesota, the hospital, which is part of HealthPartners, decided to terminate its GYN Special Services Clinic, which ranked just sixth in overall abortions in the state. According to state Health Department numbers, each of the five more profitable clinics were responsible for at least 1,000 of the procedures in 2010.
Overall, there has actually been a hopeful decline in abortions in the state over the past few years, with 11,505 abortions reported in the state last year, compared to 14,450 in 2000. Nationally, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, there has also been a steady decline in the number of abortion clinics nationally, from a high of 2,900 in 1982 to around 1,800 by 2005, a number that remained consistent through 2008. Most recently, as several states have enacted legislation to restrict abortion, pro-life leaders expect the numbers to dip even more.
I entered graduate school to study English literature in the late 1980s, eventually receiving a Ph.D. in Ren-aissance literature, and have been a professional academic ever since. I have reached that point in life where I am sufficiently wizened — and sufficiently jaded — to be allowed the luxury of griping about how much tougher it was growing up for my generation. As a life-long teacher, I might also be granted indulgence if I grumble about how little my college students actually know compared to what I learned. And although there is as much justice as exaggeration in these observations, the thing that never ceases to amaze me is how morally stunted and ethically underdeveloped our students are, how utterly unable to make even obvious moral distinctions, and how completely uninterested in differentiating between virtue and vice.
The very concepts make them profoundly uneasy: Who says virtue is better than vice? Who am I to judge the rightness or wrongness of what someone else chooses? For these students, “tolerance” — that catch-all virtue into which all other virtues have been absorbed — means accepting without question all choices and modes of behavior. They are smart enough to realize that legitimizing the bad choices of others means that they are entitled to the same legitimization for their own bad choices as well, a system of mutually beneficial amorality in which the self-interested embrace of tolerance is enough not only to absolve their own sins, but also to confer upon them a kind of active virtue that grants immunity from the moral and spiritual consequences of their choices.
It’s no secret that Christmas has been under attack by secular groups for the past several years, with court challenges to nativity scenes becoming nearly as much a seasonal tradition as the crèches that have graced cathedrals, churches, and chapels for more than a century throughout America.
This year two national religious organizations, the Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action, decided to take the fight for Christmas all the way to the Supreme Court — not with a legal challenge, but with a live nativity scene set up for all to see in front of the nation’s judicial building.
The November 30 display, which included live animals along with actors in key roles from the biblical account of Christ’s nativity, was actually a parade of sorts that wended its way past the U.S. Capitol building before arriving in front of the Supreme Court building before noon.
A press release by the groups explained that the display was part of the “Nativity Project,” a nationwide campaign designed “to share the message of Christmas and also to confront the erosion and hostility toward public expressions of faith, especially during the Christmas season.”
”I do not choose to run for Congress in 2012.” With those words, the denouement of the often combative 16-term congressional career of Barney Frank began. In a statement released to reporters, the only openly homosexual member of Congress announced his intention to avoid the complications that his candidacy would have faced because of redistricting in his home state of Massachusetts.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spent nearly $30 million lobbying in Washington through 2008-09, according to a new report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
That may not be good news for conservative-minded Catholics, however, given a significant fact about the USCCB. Except on matters of sex and abortion, the USCCB generally hews to the liberal line on public policy matters. Numerous commentators point to the bishops' pastoral letter and other teachings on the economy, and their support for universal healthcare, for instance, as proof the USCCB is virtually the religious arm of the radical left of the Democratic Party. That is true particularly on immigration.
But other prominent evangelical organizations, generally regarded as more conservative than the bishops, are among the top nine names in Pew's list.
Even as atheists in the Army are lobbying for chaplains for unbelievers, pagans and Wiccans at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have a place to cast their spells. And their new open-air “Stonehenge-like” ring of stones was provided at a cost of nearly $80,000 to the American taxpayers.
There was a time when exorbitant military expenditures were symbolized by the $640 toilet seat. But the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle certainly surpasses such examples on account of its absurdity. While the Air Force is attempting to justify the creation of a hilltop worship sight for pagan recruits on the basis of religious pluralism, in fact, the pagans who are supposed to be served by the availability of such a "circle" are almost nonexistent — at least at this point. As Jenny Deam wrote in a Los Angeles Times article (“Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches, and Wiccan”), even the academy admits pagans make up what must be the smallest religious minority at their institution:
Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.
GOP presidential contender Herman Cain has found himself contending with a variety of alleged scandals over the course of the last month, ranging from sexual harassment allegations to accusations of a long-term extramarital affair. The most recent allegation, which asserts that Cain had been involved in a 13-year affair with a woman from Atlanta, Georgia, led Cain to tell his senior staff on Tuesday morning that he was “reassessing” his campaign’s livelihood. However, there are mixed signals from the Cain camp regarding the future of Cain’s candidacy.
Cain’s declaration prompted some to wonder whether he would pull himself out of the race for a Republican presidential nomination, but Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block indicates that he simply meant he was conducting a “strategic reassessment” and “not a reassessment of withdrawing” from the race.
According to Block, Cain will be outlining the specifics of that strategic assessment during his campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, where Cain will “lay out his way forward.” When asked if Cain would drop out of the race under any specific circumstances, Block answered that there are only two things that would prompt Cain to leave the race: “Mrs. Cain, and if we show up to do an event and no one is there.”
A month after a similar amendment was rejected by voters in Mississippi, pro-life leaders in Colorado have announced that they will work to place a proposed “personhood” amendment on the ballot in their state. The amendment, which has already failed twice in the state, is meant to “protect every child, no matter their age, race, gender, location, or size,” explained Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, the Colorado group behind personhood amendment efforts in a number of states.
Proponents will need to get approval for the amendment from the Colorado Secretary of State, as well as about 79,000 petition signatures from state voters, in order for the amendment to make it to the ballot.
While past personhood amendment language has been confined to a one-sentence declaration that defines unborn children as persons under the law beginning at conception, the new proposed amendment states: “In order to affirm basic human dignity, be it resolved that the right to life in this Constitution applies to all innocent persons.” The amendment goes on to declare, among other specifications, that the “intentional killing of any innocent person is prohibited,” and that “no innocent child created through rape or incest shall be killed for the crime of his or her father.”
As for the pertinent definitions, the proposed amendment specifies that “‘person’ applies to every human being regardless of the method of creation,” and that a “‘human being’ is a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development.” Additionally, the amendment specifies that a “child” includes “a human being prior to and during birth.”
The community of San Juan Capistrano, California, has backed down from ticketing a couple for holding Bible studies in their home after the couple’s attorneys filed a religious-freedom lawsuit against the city. Back in September, city officials had fined Chuck and Stephanie Fromm $300 after determining that the couple was in violation of a municipal code that prohibited “religious, fraternal, or non-profit” groups to meet in residential neighborhoods without a permit.
As reported by The New American, the couple hosted a mid-week Bible study that drew some 20 participants, as well as a Sunday service with an attendance of around 50. According to the code, institutions needing a permit included “churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations.”
The highly controversial sexual molestation charges against the assistant football coach at Penn State have now been followed by similar allegations against the assistant basketball coach at upstate New York’s Syracuse University.
Syracuse recently fired its assistant basketball coach, Bernie Fine, after allegations surfaced that he had for years sexually molested young ball-boys for the basketball team, dating back to 1984. The university was reportedly “shaken” by the allegations.
According to WSYR Channel 9, “Fine has been the subject of a sexual molestation investigation involving several law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s office, Onondaga County District Attorney’s office, Syracuse Police, and New York State Police.”
One of Fine’s alleged victims, Bobby Davis, now 39, told “Outside the Lines” that he was sexually abused by Fine for six years, starting in 1984, while serving as the basketball team’s ball-boy, at both Fine’s home and the university’s basketball facilities. He claims that the abuse continued until he was 27 years old.
Following the revelation of Davis, another alleged victim came forward — Mike Lang, 45, stepbrother of Bobby Davis who also served as a ball-boy for the basketball team. Lang asserts that Fine molested him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade.